How do authentic, empowering leaders influence new graduate nurses’ burnout development, job satisfaction, and quality of care? Examining the role of short-staffing and work-life interference


Aim: To test a hypothesized model linking new graduate nurses’ perceptions of their manager’s authentic leadership behaviours to structural empowerment, short-staffing, and work-life interference, and subsequent burnout, job satisfaction, and patient care quality. Background: Authentic leadership and structural empowerment have been shown to reduce early career burnout among nurses. Short-staffing and work-life interference are also linked to burnout and may help explain the impact of positive, empowering leadership on burnout, which in turn influences job satisfaction and patient care quality. Design: A time-lagged study of Canadian new graduate nurses was conducted. Methods: At Time 1, surveys were sent to 3,743 nurses (November 2012 to March 2013) and 1,020 were returned (27.3% response rate). At Time 2 (May to July 2014), 406 nurses who responded at Time 1 completed surveys (39.8% response rate). Descriptive analysis was conducted in SPSS. Structural equation modeling in Mplus was used to test the hypothesized model. Results: The hypothesized model was supported. Authentic leadership had a significant positive effect on structural empowerment, which in turn, decreased both short-staffing and work-life interference. Short-staffing and work-life imbalance subsequently resulted in nurse burnout, lower job satisfaction, and lower patient care quality one year later. Conclusion: The findings suggest that short-staffing and work-life interference are important factors influencing new graduate nurse burnout. Developing nurse managers’ authentic leadership behaviours and working with them to create and sustain empowering work environments may help reduce burnout, increase nurse job satisfaction and improve patient care quality.